Sunday, September 2, 2012

Got a Mahzor?

I was sitting on a plane this morning next to a gentleman, who after settling in with his seat-belt and adjusting his pillow, removed a Rosh Hashana Mahzor from his bag.

Now for me, this was tell tale sign that this person was a chazan and was serious about preparing for what is often referred to as the playoffs of Jewish prayer.  I inquired and indeed he was in charge of helping to create the Karlin-Stolin niggunim for the yamim noraim, Days of Awe and wanted to brush up on the words, tunes, and spiritual meaning.

For some, the high holy days suddenly happen upon us and thus enter unprepared because of a hectic work schedule or the heavy logistics of a family life.  For others, especially students, time can be found to reflect or learn a special book or work to get one 'ready' for the conceptual judgment on Rosh Hashanna.

I found this gentleman a fascinating inspiration for each of us to make new time to (re)examine the liturgy before it will be chanted and preformed in our shuls.  Don't just to wait until it happens upon us, but look into a verse that jumps out for significance or context considering this year and to research more about its language and meaning.  One approach that my brother uses every year is to chooses a verse, sentence or clause that captures a thematic approach for the season.  Dust off your mahzor, or buy a new one; just don't wait until you get to shul to open it for the first time, even if you aren't the chazan.

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